Having gone on vacation this summer to the Dominican Republic, I got to witness some of my family’s reactions to the current state of their home country. On the car ride from Puerto Plata to Jayaco, we passed so many types of plants and trees, which they kept saying looked “sick.” Jayaco locals say the plant conditions are due to a decrease in rain they have noticed over the decades. They couldn’t seem to explain why this is, but they were certain that was the reason. This is merely their observation through memory, but could very well be true. Climate change affects the country more than they know.
In 2017, the Dominican Republic was ranked the 11th most vulnerable country to climate change. Coastal regions experience flooding, rural areas experience droughts, and this lead to damaged crops and loss of soil fertility. Since it sits in the middle of a hurricane belt, storms often damage the hotels and resorts, as well as other infrastructures. In 2013, the country had GHG emissions of 24.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), roughly 0.05 percent of global emissions. Although the Dominican Republic joined the Paris Agreement in September 2017, committing to bring down their emissions 25% by 2030, they currently emit 26.4 MtCO2e, 0.07 percent of global emissions. The target cities include Santo Domingo, Santiago, Las Terrenas, and San Pedro de Macoris, 4 of the largest. However, it is important that the government gets word out to its people.
Jayaco, a town on the outskirts of Bonao, looks the same as it did when I visited 9 years ago. The streets are still damaged, there are no governing officials or law enforcement present, and the people rely on themselves in order to keep their town together. They rely on the energy they are provided, between the hours of 7 A.M. to 1 P.M., then 3 P.M. to 7 P.M. The rest of the hours, they use generators to power their homes, if any. I asked my family why they don’t invest in solar panels, given the abundance of sunshine, they said they don’t really see much of them and frankly, the townspeople don’t understand how they work. They are not being educated on such an effective solution to reducing GHG emissions because they aren’t reached out to.
Of course, there are many other problems and other solutions that can be put in place. Perhaps setting up centers and programs can help educate and improve these small communities in need. While this will not solve the world’s problems, perhaps it is a step in the right direction.